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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Mayan Bowls, Plates and Vessels : Mayan Polychrome Tetrapod Bowl
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Mayan Polychrome Tetrapod Bowl - PF.5666
Origin: El Salvador
Circa: 300 AD to 900 AD
Dimensions: 4" (10.2cm) high x 9" (22.9cm) wide
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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Elevated on four small legs, the center of this bowl is decorated by a curious figure. Contorted and hunched over, this could represent a monkey or, perhaps, a hunchback. While the face appears more human, a tail seems to protrude from the hind. A ring or alternating black and orange dots surrounds this figure. An interwoven mat pattern fills the interior rim of the vessel. The exterior rim is also painted with a band of pseudo-glyphs, one in the shape of a diagonally slanting, swirling wave. The area above the legs is emphasized by a motif of four red horizontal lines framed on either side by to vertical black lines. There is also one spectacular detail that can almost be overlooked. Between a pair of legs, a little creature sticks his head out, holding his hands on the lower edge of dish. This figure actually protrudes from the contours of the vessel. Is he human, is he an animal. Perhaps it is the same mysterious figure seen in the center of the bowl. Discovered inside of a tomb, buried alongside a fallen ruler or dignitary, this vessel was as essential in the afterlife as it was in this world. - (PF.5666)


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